If you’re experiencing pelvic pain, bladder pain or dysfunction for more than 4 months, your nervous system may need some extra loving care.
Once your doctors and their tests have ruled out any active infection, pathological tissue causes, and medications haven’t healed your issues, your nervous system may be contributing to ongoing discomfort.
Our autonomic nervous system helps us breathe, digest, eliminate without us ever having to think about it! There are 2 parts to this system: the sympathetic/”fight or flight” and the parasympathetic/”rest and digest”. For optimum body function and feeling good, we strive to have a harmonious balance between the two.
If you are persistently experiencing emotional threats, high stress or anxiety, your sympathetic/“fight or flight” nervous system can become overactive, sounding the alarm bells in the brain. The brain responds to the incessant alarm, by sending pain chemicals, usually to an area of the body where you’ve had prior issues. So if you have a history of bladder pain or lower back pain, you might feel ongoing discomfort in these areas.
The sympathetic nervous system, “S for Store or Stress”, is involved with keeping continence, being tense, ready to run or fight, so going to the bathroom in this state is difficult.
The parasympathetic nervous system, “P for Pour”, is involved in the release, effortless flow, so going to the bathroom is easy. The parasympathetic enhances our body’s ability to rest, reproduce, repair and digest.
When channeling the parasympathetic nervous system, the brain sends more happy chemicals like dopamine, endorphins and less pain chemicals.
Here are some exercises we teach our patients to elevate feelings of calm and decrease pelvic and bladder pain:
This exercise stimulates the vagus nerve which elevates the parasympathetic nervous system. With each deep inhale, the diaphragm and pelvic floor both lengthens and lowers. As you exhale, they return to its resting upward dome position. Here’s how to perform:
- Position yourself on your back with head and legs supported by a pillow
- Place one hand on the stomach and the other on the chest
- Inhale for a count of 3 feeling your hand on your stomach gentle moving up
- Exhale for a count of 5, feeling your hand on your stomach lowering. Your hand on your chest keeps relatively still throughout
- Repeat 10 times. Do this first thing upon awaking every morning.
Happy Baby Pose
This exercise further relaxes and stretches the muscles of the pelvic floor:
- Lie on your back
- While keeping your lower spine in contact with the ground, bring one knee then the other knee towards your chest. Grasp both heels, or ankles, or shin bones (whichever is most comfortable for you)
- Let your knees fall out to the sides and towards the ground while you relax your pelvic floor
- Do 10 diaphragmatic breaths while maintaining this position. Do 2x/day
Seated Pelvic Floor Relaxation
This exercise helps you become aware of the sensation of a calm, relaxed body.
- Sit comfortably on a chair- you can rest against the back of the chair with cushions
- Inhale and visualize your pelvic floor muscles softening down towards the chair seat
- Exhale as your pelvic floor naturally returns to its resting upward position
- With each exhale focus on a different area of your body: jaw, shoulders, glutes, inner thighs, and lower abdomen, becoming more soft and supple
- Do for 2 minutes. Do 2x’s a day.
No matter how many months or years you’ve had persistent bladder/pelvic pain, with awareness and practice of these techniques you may notice less pain. The staff at EMH Physical Therapy in NYC offers many more techniques to calm an overactive nervous system and heal pelvic pain, so contact us anytime.